Termination of employment

Termination of employment

Termination of employment is the end of an employee's duration with an employer. Depending on the case, the decision may be made by the employee, the employer, or mutually agreed upon by both.

Voluntary termination

Voluntary termination is a decision made by the employee to leave the job. Such a decision is commonly known as "resignation", "quitting", "leaving", or "giving notice". Some common reasons for voluntary termination include:

*Personal dissatisfaction with job, employer, hours, or working conditions, or in more severe cases, burnout.
*Factors in employee's personal life not related to the job that make holding or performing the job impossible or more difficult. These may include family obligations, education, health, or moving to a new location.
*Hire at a new job. Reasons for wanting a different job may be better working conditions, better hours, a shorter distance to work, better pay, graduation, career progression or preparation for entry into a new career, or a career change.
*Feared or anticipated involuntary termination. The employee may wish to take matters into his/her own hands in order to leave more honorably. This is also known as mutual consent in some parts.
*Retirement. This may be as a result of the employee's age (which may vary, depending on job type and benefits available following retirement) or else an injury, disability, or other medical condition forcing early retirement.

Depending on the employee's reason, comfort with the employer, and dedication to the job, voluntary termination may be sudden and abrupt without warning to the employer, or with a certain amount of notice given. Generally, employers prefer that a departing employee provide at least some notice to the employer, often at least two weeks. Those in compliance with this requirement are more likely to be rehired by the same employer in the future, to receive their full benefits from the employer, and to get a better reference for future employers.

Involuntary termination

Involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. There are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." To be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's fault, and therefore is considered in most cases to be dishonorable and a sign of failure. Often, it may hinder the now job-seeker's chances of finding new employment, particularly if he/she has been fired from earlier jobs. Job seekers will often not mention jobs that they were fired from on their resumes; accordingly, unexplained gaps in employment are often regarded as a red flag.


Dismissal is the employer's choice to let go of the employee generally for a reason that is the fault of the employee. The most common colloquial term for dismissal is "getting fired" (or getting "sacked" in UK English usage).


A less severe form of involuntary termination is often referred to as a layoff. A "layoff" is usually not strictly related to personal performance but due to economic cycles or the company's need to restructure itself, or a change in function of the employer (for example, a certain type of product or service is no longer offered by the company and therefore jobs related to that product or service are no longer needed). One type of layoff is the aggressive layoff. Under such a situation the employee is laid off for a just cause but is never replaced and the job is eliminated.

In a postmodern risk economy, such as the United States, a large proportion of workers may be laid off at some time in their life, and often not for reasons related to performance or ethics.

However, employment termination can also result from a probational period, in which the employee and the employer reaches an agreement that he or she is allowed to lay off the employee if the probational period is not satisfied.

Often, layoffs occur as a result of "downsizing", "reduction in force", or "redundancy". These are not technically classified as firings. A laid-off employee's job is terminated and not re-filled, because the company wishes to reduce its size or operations, or otherwise lacks the economic stability to retain the position. In some cases, a laid-off employee may be offered re-hire by his/her respective company, though by this time, s/he has often found a new job.

Some companies resort to attrition as a means to reduce their work force. [ [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/attrition attrition - Definitions from Dictionary.com ] ] Under such a plan, no employees are forced to leave their jobs. However, those who do depart voluntarily are not replaced. Additionally, employees are given the option to resign in exchange for a fixed amount of money, frequently a few years of their salary. Such plans have been carried out by the United States Federal Government under President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, [ [http://www.4president.org/brochures/billclinton1992brochure.htm Bill Clinton for President 1992 Campaign Brochure ] ] and by the Ford Motor Company in 2005. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/earnings/2006-01-23-ford-q4_x.htm USATODAY.com - Ford will cut 25,000 to 30,000 jobs, close 14 plants ] ]

Termination by mutual agreement

Some terminations occur as a result of mutual agreement between the employer and employee. When this happens, it is sometimes debatable if the termination was truly mutual. In many of these cases, it was originally the employer's wish for the employee to depart, but the employer offered the mutual termination agreement in order to soften the firing (as in a "forced resignation"). But there are also times when a termination date is agreed upon before the employment starts (as in an employment contract).

Some types of termination by mutual agreement include:
*The end of an employment contract for a specified period of time (such as an internship)
*Mandatory retirement. Some occupations, such as commercial airline pilots, face mandatory retirement at a certain age.
*Forced resignation

Changes of conditions

Firms that wish for an employee to exit of his or her own accord, but do not wish to pursue firing or forced resignation, may degrade the employee's working conditions, hoping that he or she will leave "voluntarily". The employee may be moved to a different geographical location, assigned to an undesirable shift, given too few hours if part time, demoted (or relegated to a menial task), or assigned to work in uncomfortable conditions. Other forms of manipulation may be used, such as being unfairly hostile to the employee, and punishing him or her for things that are deliberately overlooked with other employees.

Such tactics may amount to constructive dismissal, which is illegal in some jurisdictions.

Rehire following termination

Depending on the circumstances, one whose employment has been terminated may or may not be able to be rehired by the same employer.

If the decision to terminate was the employee's, the willingness of the employer to rehire is often contingent upon the relationship the employee had with the employer, the amount of notice given by the employee prior to departure, and the needs of the employer. In some cases, when an employee departed on good terms, s/he may be given special priority by the employer when seeking rehire.

An employee who was fired by an employer may in some cases be eligible for rehire by that same employer.

An employee may be "terminated without prejudice", meaning the fired employee may be rehired readily for the same or a similar job in the future. This is usually true in the case of layoff.

Conversely, a person can be terminated with prejudice, meaning an employer will not rehire the former employee to a similar job in the future. This can be for many reasons: incompetence, misconduct (such as dishonesty or "zero tolerance" violations), insubordination or "attitude" (personality clashes with peers or bosses).

Termination forms ("pink slips") routinely include a set of check boxes where a supervisor can indicate "with prejudice" or "without prejudice".

During the Vietnam War, the CIA used this terminology with regard to its locally hired operatives. In the case of severe misconduct, it is alleged that the CIA would assassinate them or "terminate with extreme prejudice". [ Douglas Valentine,"The Phoenix Program", 1990.] This phrase entered popular culture - often shorn of its original context - through its use in the movie Apocalypse Now.

See also

* Turnover (employment)
* Employee exit management


External links

* [http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/emplaw/dismissal/ Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) resources on dismissal in the UK]

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